Hawaii troops among those marking end to combat in Iraq

Chandra Wimbush
Chandra Wimbush
Dana Bowman
Dana Bowman

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of US troops who have been in Iraq are heading back to their loved ones. The final American combat brigade left Iraq overnight.

Military officials say figuring out the number of individuals from Hawaii who have served in Iraq since the start of the war is no easy task because deployments are constantly happening.

After seven years of war, soldiers from the last US combat brigade crossed the border out of Iraq.

Over the last 18 months, about 90,000 troops have left Iraq. The military is on schedule to meet President Obama's August 31st deadline for an end to the combat mission.

At Tripler Army Medical Center Thursday, wounded warriors and others enjoyed an aerial show by retired Army Sergeant and double amputee Dana Bowman. As he proudly displayed the American flag, thoughts were with the 50,000 US troops remaining in Iraq.

"It's a temperature of like 135 to 140 degrees during the day and then 90 degrees at night, so it's really hot, really strenuous," Jonathon Armel, Army Specialist, recalled. "Long hours, very little communication with your family, so you're constantly homesick."

"Being in Iraq, being away from home, because I'm a single parent, basically it just showed me that we do have a job to do, and that we just gotta serve and do what we must do," Chandra Wimbush, Army Specialist, said.

Officials say it's difficult to pinpoint the total number of Hawaii-based active-duty military personnel, National Guard members and reservists who have served in Iraq since 2003 since many have deployed multiple times.

The Hawaii Army National Guard has had 3,700 deployments to Iraq, while the Air National Guard has had 350. Six National Guard members have died in Iraq.

US Sen. Daniel Inouye's military liaison says some Marines are on their ninth or 10th deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 9-11.

"I think that's great that we're able to bring our troops back from harm's way because it hurts me so dearly that when I go to Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval and see these hundreds of soldiers that have lost arms and legs and even other tragedies," Bowman said.

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